2019 BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon vs. 2019 Acura RDX

Detailed Review, Specifications & Comparison

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Safety

The 3 Series Sports Wagon has standard Active Head Restraints, which use a specially designed headrest to protect the driver and front passenger from whiplash. During a rear-end collision, the Active Head Restraints system moves the headrests forward to prevent neck and spine injuries. The RDX doesn’t offer a whiplash protection system.

To provide maximum traction and stability on all roads, All-Wheel Drive is standard on the 3 Series Sports Wagon. But it costs extra on the RDX.

Both the 3 Series Sports Wagon and the RDX have standard driver and passenger frontal airbags, front side-impact airbags, driver and front passenger knee airbags, side-impact head airbags, front seatbelt pretensioners, plastic fuel tanks, four-wheel antilock brakes, traction control, electronic stability systems to prevent skidding, crash mitigating brakes, daytime running lights, lane departure warning systems, rearview cameras, available blind spot warning systems and around view monitors.

Warranty

The 3 Series Sports Wagon’s corrosion warranty is 7 years longer than the RDX’s (12 vs. 5 years).

BMW pays for scheduled maintenance on the 3 Series Sports Wagon for 3 years and 36,000 miles. BMW will pay for oil changes, lubrication and any other required maintenance. Acura doesn’t pay scheduled maintenance for the RDX.

There are over 27 percent more BMW dealers than there are Acura dealers, which makes it easier should you ever need service under the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s warranty.

Reliability

The battery on the 3 Series Sports Wagon is in the trunk, which protects it from hot underhood temperatures that can degrade battery life. By keeping the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s battery 20 to 30 degrees cooler, its life is increased by years. The RDX’s battery is in the hot engine compartment.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 Initial Quality Study of new car owners surveyed provide the statistics that show that BMW vehicles are better in initial quality than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 11th in initial quality, above the industry average. With 12 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 20th, below the industry average.

J.D. Power and Associates’ 2018 survey of the owners of three-year-old vehicles provides the long-term dependability statistics that show that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in reliability, above the industry average. With 32 more problems per 100 vehicles, Acura is ranked 20th.

From surveys of all its subscribers, Consumer Reports’ April 2018 Auto Issue reports that BMW vehicles are more reliable than Acura vehicles. Consumer Reports ranks BMW 14 places higher in reliability than Acura.

Fuel Economy and Range

On the EPA test cycle the 330i Sports Wagon gets better fuel mileage than the RDX AWD (23 city/33 hwy vs. 21 city/27 hwy).

Regenerative brakes improve the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s fuel efficiency by converting inertia back into energy instead of wasting it. The RDX doesn’t offer a regenerative braking system.

Brakes and Stopping

For better stopping power the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s front brake rotors are larger than those on the RDX:

 

3 Series

RDX

Front Rotors

13 inches

12.4 inches

The 3 Series Sports Wagon’s standard front and rear disc brakes are vented to help dissipate heat for shorter stops with less fading. The rear discs on the RDX are solid, not vented.

The 3 Series Sports Wagon stops much shorter than the RDX:

 

3 Series

RDX

 

70 to 0 MPH

165 feet

177 feet

Car and Driver

Tires and Wheels

The 3 Series Sports Wagon’s standard tires provide better handling because they have a lower 50 series profile (height to width ratio) that provides a stiffer sidewall than the RDX’s standard 55 series tires.

Changing a flat tire near traffic can be dangerous and inconvenient. The run-flat tires available on the 3 Series Sports Wagon can be driven up to 50 miles without any air pressure, allowing you to drive to a service station for a repair. The RDX doesn’t offer run-flat tires.

Suspension and Handling

For a smoother ride and more stable handling, the 3 Series Sports Wagon’s wheelbase is 2.3 inches longer than on the RDX (110.6 inches vs. 108.3 inches).

The 3 Series Sports Wagon’s front to rear weight distribution is more even (49.1% to 50.9%) than the RDX’s (57% to 43%). This gives the 3 Series Sports Wagon more stable handling and braking.

The 330i Sports Wagon handles at .86 G’s, while the RDX A-Spec AWD pulls only .81 G’s of cornering force in a Car and Driver skidpad test.

Chassis

The 3 Series Sports Wagon is 4 inches shorter than the RDX, making the 3 Series Sports Wagon easier to handle, maneuver and park in tight spaces.

The 3 Series Sports Wagon is 9.2 inches shorter in height than the RDX, making the 3 Series Sports Wagon much easier to wash and garage and drive (lower center of gravity).

Passenger Space

The 3 Series Sports Wagon has .8 inches more front headroom and .4 inches more front legroom than the RDX.

Cargo Capacity

The 3 Series Sports Wagon’s rear cargo window opens separately from the rest of the liftgate door to allow quicker loading of small packages. The RDX’s rear cargo window doesn’t open.

Payload

The 3 Series Sports Wagon has a higher standard payload capacity than the RDX (900 vs. 838 lbs.).

Servicing Ease

The engine in the 3 Series Sports Wagon is mounted longitudinally (North-South), instead of sideways, as in the RDX. This makes it easier to service and maintain, because the accessory belts are in front.

J.D. Power and Associates surveys of service recipients show that BMW service is better than Acura. J.D. Power ranks BMW 8th in service department satisfaction (above the industry average). With a 12% lower rating, Acura is ranked 12th.

Ergonomics

The 3 Series Sports Wagon’s rain-sensitive wipers adjust their speed and turn on and off automatically based on the amount of rainfall on the windshield. This allows the driver to concentrate on driving without constantly adjusting the wipers. The RDX’s standard intermittent wipers change speed with vehicle speed, but can’t turn on and off or change speed based on changing rainfall.

Heated windshield washer nozzles are standard on the 3 Series Sports Wagon to prevent washer fluid and nozzles from freezing and help continue to keep the windshield clear in sub-freezing temperatures. The RDX doesn’t offer heated windshield washer nozzles.

In poor weather, headlights can lose their effectiveness as grime builds up on their lenses. This can reduce visibility without the driver realizing. The 3 Series Sports Wagon offers available headlight washers to keep headlight output high. The RDX doesn’t offer headlight washers.

To help drivers avoid possible obstacles, the 3 Series Sports Wagon offers optional cornering lights to illuminate around corners when the turn signals are activated. The RDX doesn’t offer cornering lights. The 3 Series Sports Wagon also offers optional adaptive headlights to illuminate around corners automatically by reading vehicle speed and steering wheel angle.

The 3 Series Sports Wagon’s optional Parking Assistant can parallel park or back into a parking spot by itself, with the driver only controlling speed with the brake pedal. The RDX doesn’t offer an automated parking system.

Model Availability

The BMW 3 Series comes in sedan, four door hatchback and station wagon bodystyles; the Acura RDX isn’t available as a sedan or four door hatchback.

Economic Advantages

Insurance will cost less for the 3 Series Sports Wagon owner. The Car Book by Jack Gillis rates the 3 Series Sports Wagon with a number “3” insurance rate while the RDX is rated higher at a number “10” rate.

The 3 Series Sports Wagon will cost the buyer less in the long run because of its superior resale value. The IntelliChoice estimates that the 3 Series Sports Wagon will retain 54.53% to 55.45% of its original price after five years, while the RDX only retains 51.89% to 53.05%.

According to The Car Book by Jack Gillis, the 3 Series Sports Wagon is less expensive to operate than the RDX because typical repairs cost much less on the 3 Series Sports Wagon than the RDX, including $140 less for front brake pads, $251 less for a fuel pump and $462 less for a power steering pump.

Recommendations

The BMW 3 Series Sports Wagon has won recognition from these important consumer publications:

 

3 Series

RDX

Consumer Reports® Recommends

TRUE

n/a

Car Book “Best Bet”

TRUE

TRUE

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Car and Driver’s “Top Ten” for 20 of the last 24 years. The RDX has never been a Car and Driver “Top Ten” pick.

The 3 Series was chosen as one of Automobile Magazine’s “All Stars” for 13 of the last 22 years. The RDX has never been an “All Star.”

The BMW 3 Series outsold the Acura RDX by 16% during 2017.

© 1991-2018 Advanta-STAR Automotive Research. All rights reserved.

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